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NHDems Star in ‘Don’t Run, Joe’ TV Ad Urging Biden to Bow Out

President Joe Biden may see himself as another FDR or LBJ, but progressive Democrats worry that, if he is the party’s banner carrier in 2024, their political hopes will be DOA.

And so, with Biden’s approval ratings languishing around 41 percent and new polls showing him losing a head-to-head match-up against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), the progressive group RootsAction has launched an ad in New Hampshire featuring Granite Staters urging, “Don’t Run, Joe!”

The ads will air on WMUR during evening news broadcasts as well as on late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, according to a statement from RootsAction. In the ad, Rep. Ellen Read (D-Newmarket) summarized the message by saying, “Our ideas are way more popular than Joe Biden is.”

Reached this week by NH Journal, Read said the ads are meant to spark a conversation among Democrats about a better way forward than the current status quo. Biden, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate the same year Richard Nixon was re-elected president, is part of what is wrong with current American politics, Read said.

“He’s part of the old guard who does the bidding of crony capitalists,” Read said. “Joe Biden represents that last 40 years of the same old, same old.”

And when Read says “old,” she means it.

“It is clear that Democrats can put forward a better candidate than Joe Biden,” Read said. “And it is clear he has some cognitive decline. He has some good days and some bad days.”

Read, a vocal supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the last two presidential primaries, said the Democratic Party needs to strongly consider moving away from Biden and the way things have been done. Biden is too moderate and too old, she said.

It’s a sensitive issue for the 80-year-old Biden, according to media reports. In response to the drumbeat of coverage regarding his age and mental acuity, Politico quotes the president barking at a staffer “You think I don’t know how f—ing old I am?”

In a new poll released by Newsweek on Tuesday, nearly 60 percent of voters said Biden should not run again, and most cited his age as the reason. In June, a University of New Hampshire poll found 65 percent of Granite Staters said they did not want Biden to run in 2024. More significantly, just 54 percent of self-identified Democrats wanted Biden on the ballot, down from 74 percent a year earlier.

Another area of common interest could be Biden’s ongoing battle to strip New Hampshire Democrats of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. When news broke about the calendar Biden pushed on the DNC, RootsAction immediately spoke up.

“We believe President Biden’s move to replace New Hampshire with South Carolina as first-in-the nation is motivated by naked political self-interest, and nothing more,” RootsAction co-founder Jeff Cohen told NHJournal.

“Joe Biden should climb down from attempting to manipulate the Democratic primary schedule for his own narrow political purposes. As we pointed out when announcing the Don’t Run Joe campaign, ‘A president is not his party’s king, and he has no automatic right to renomination.'”

All of which means the Don’t Run Joe campaign could find fertile political ground in the Granite State. The push began just hours after last month’s midterms elections ended with text messages to local Democrats. “It’s up to NH Democrats to choose a bold leader who can defeat the fascistic Republican Party and help other Dems win,” one of text read.

RootsAction says Biden’s “moderate” policies on a host of issues like climate change, student loan debt, voting rights and healthcare have failed, and he is not likely to win in 2024.

Read has been disappointed in the anti-worker politics coming out of the Biden Administration, citing the recent railroad worker contract as an example. Biden’s team stopped rail workers’ unions from striking by forcing them to work under a contract already negotiated.

Read does not have a specific candidate in mind to replace Biden just yet. But she said with the midterms done it is time for liberals and progressives to reassess priorities. She said Biden has too often used progressive positions like student debt relief and marijuana decriminalization as campaign tools in a cyclical ploy for votes.

“We need people who will not play partisan games anymore,” she said. “Everyone is sick of the bitter divide we’re experiencing. The answer is not more (centrism,) the answer is good faith engagement.”

Mainstream New Hampshire Democrats have largely stayed out of the question about Biden’s reelection. Senator Maggie Hassan (D) for example, rarely mentioned Biden during her campaign this fall and dodged questions about his possible 2024 run. One establishment Democratic insider told NHJournal that “Biden’s victories and accomplishments” in recent weeks have made the president more popular among Democrats, and that if he runs, he’ll certainly be the nominee.

Progressives are still pushing the other way.

Former Rep. Sherry Frost, D-Dover, is an early backer of the effort to oust Biden.

“I am eager to support a candidate who understands the fatal dysfunction in our economy and is willing to hold the ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations to their obligations,” Frost said in a statement. “I am not confident that Biden is that candidate, and while I appreciate his rescuing us from another Trump term, I believe we need someone else to champion the big and systemic changes we need to continue to strive toward our more perfect union.”

Biden is expected to formally decide whether he will run again sometime around Christmas. So far, the only declared candidate in the 2024 race is former President Donald Trump.

Read is not concerned about the optics of the Don’t Run Joe campaign possibly harming Democrats. The campaign is meant to get Democrats thinking about alternatives, but it won’t interfere with Biden if he does get into the race. The Biden dissidents will stand down for the good of the party, she said.

“The Don’t Run Joe campaign ends after (he) decides whether to or not to run,” she said.

Don’t Run, Joe! Progressives Anti-Biden Campaign Comes to Granite State

Hours after their party defied political history and won a sweeping midterm victory in the Granite State, New Hampshire Democrats started getting a new message on their phones.

Dump Joe Biden.

Texts from the Don’t Run Joe campaign started hitting New Hampshire numbers before all the votes were even counted, urging local Democrats to sign a petition asking Biden to not run for president in 2024.

“It’s up to NH Democrats to choose a bold leader who can defeat the fascistic Republican Party and help other Dems win,” one of the texts reads.

The effort is being led by the progressive group RootsAction, which spent 2020 working to convince leftwing voters to back Biden’s White House bid. Now, they say it is time for Democrats to embrace a true progressive.

“Unfortunately, President Biden has been neither bold nor inspiring,” the organization said in a statement. “And his prospects for winning re-election appear to be bleak. With so much at stake, making him the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in 2024 would be a tragic mistake.”

The effort to push Biden out has been in the works for months. Norman Solomon, a co-founder of RootsAction, told The Hill.TV said in July voters want Biden to “get out of the way” so a more progressive candidate can take his place.

“That opens up the possibility of a progressive nominee,” Solomon said. “That’s where our future is, to get a logjam named President Biden out of the way for 2024.”

It’s not the first time the leftwing of the party has targeted an incumbent president.

“Our immediate goal within the Democratic Party is to ‘dump Biden,’ much as the anti-Vietnam-War forces among Democrats set out to ‘dump Johnson’ in 1967, which led antiwar candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy to enter the race,” according to their website.

Kicking Biden to the curb might seem outlandish but targeting Democratic activists in the First-in-the-Nation (#FITN) primary state makes sense if the goal is to lay the groundwork for a potential challenge. And, strategists say, given Biden’s age and health challenges, it is possible there could be an open primary regardless of the president’s plans.

At least one New Hampshire Democrat is publicly onboard. Outgoing state Rep. Sherry Frost (D-Dover) said in a statement she has lost confidence in Biden and wants a new candidate to lead the party.

“I am eager to support a candidate who understands the fatal dysfunction in our economy and is willing to hold the ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations to their obligations,” Frost said. “I am not confident that Biden is that candidate, and while I appreciate his rescuing us from another Trump term, I believe we need someone else to champion the big and systemic changes we need to continue to strive toward our more perfect union.”

However, progressive activist Gale Toale Taylor said on Twitter she wants the “Don’t Run Joe” campaign to stop.

“What the heck is this ‘Don’t Run Joe’ campaign? I got a text from Jon, a volunteer with ‘Don’t Run Joe’ asking me if I would prefer a candidate other than Joe Biden. My answer: STOP! Go Away! Our president is obviously doing what is best for us all,” Toale Taylor wrote.

Before last week’s midterms, Biden’s future was viewed as shaky at best. His approval ratings have been underwater for more than a year as the country struggles with record-high inflation and out-of-control energy costs. A September ABC News/Washington Post poll even found 35 percent of Democrats wanted a new candidate for the 2024 presidential election. A recent Reuters survey found Biden stuck with a 57 percent disapproval rating.

That may have changed somewhat after Biden scored a short-lived victory by canceling student loan debt, only for it to be overturned by the courts. He also pushed through trillions in spending and marijuana reform.

Still, Biden has long been dogged from his left, and RootsAction represents progressives who back candidates like socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

RootsAction was founded in 2011 by Solomon and Jeff Cohen, both progressive activists and journalists. The organization is in opposition to the Republican Party, as well as the mainstream Democratic Party represented by Biden, who is considered too centrist for the group.

“Our country faces an increasingly extremist Republican Party that is largely a subsidiary of corporate America, and a Democratic Party whose leadership is enmeshed with and compromised by corporate power,” RootsAction said on its website.

Bernie Sanders Is the ‘Sally Field’ of the 2020 Democratic Primary

“And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” — Sally Field, accepting the Best Actress Academy Award for ‘Places in the Heart’ in 1985.


Establishment Democrats fear him, cable news pundits dismiss him as unelectable, and Trump supporters celebrate his success. But how do rank-and-file Democrats feel about Bernie Sanders?

They like him. Right now, they like him.

A new WBUR poll of New Hampshire Democrats gives Sanders 29 percent of the vote and a double-digit lead over his closest competitor — a margin so large some see the poll as an outlier.  However, look past the topline and the numbers in this poll aren’t out of line with recent results.

For example, Sanders’ approval rating among New Hampshire Democrats is 74 percent — higher than any other candidate.

In Morning Consult’s latest poll of Democrats nationwide, his approval is 73 percent — and that’s actually down by 3 points.

And a new FiveThirtyEight analysis of multiple polls finds Sanders is the most popular Democrat in the field with a 73 percent favorable rating and a net +51 percent approval.

It’s true that Sanders favorability is only slightly higher than Biden (71 percent) or Elizabeth Warren (68 percent), and polling throughout 2019 found Democratic primary voters generally like all of the frontrunning candidates and were satisfied with their choices. So in a sense, Sanders’ numbers aren’t news.


Warren’s Sexism Claim A Tough Sell in New Hampshire

Is sexism responsible for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent slide in the polls? Will her gender-war dust-up with Sen. Bernie Sanders turn around her struggling campaign?

The early polling is unclear. But of all the states where Warren can complain of sexism, the very worst may be New Hampshire.

In 2016, the same night Hillary Clinton won the state’s four Electoral College votes, New Hampshire’s woman governor was elected to the U.S. Senate, giving the state an all-female congressional delegation. There are only two U.S. senators in purple states with an approval rating above 50 percent in the latest Morning Consult poll. Both are women — and both are in New Hampshire.

So when Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) says sexism facing women candidates like herself “is so bad,” it’s hard to reconcile with the record of New Hampshire primary voters.

Complaints about unfair treatment of women candidates is nothing new. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said explicitly that “misogyny and sexism were a problem on the campaign trail.” Across the aisle, supporters of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin pointed out egregiously sexist attacks coming from left-leaning outlets.

Also not new: Studies showing that women candidates succeed or fail at about the same rate as men. It’s true that women are less likely to run — a fact that is evidence itself of sexism, some say — but when they run, they’re just as likely to win as their male counterparts. In 2018, they were more likely.

These facts haven’t stopped the surge of statements, news stories and analysis suggesting that America in general — and Democratic primary voters in particular — are uncomfortable voting for women.

“We have a deeply misogynistic country,” 2020 Democrat Andrew Yang said at a recent Concord, N.H. campaign stop. “I would one hundred percent agree with anyone who thinks the deck is stacked against female candidates because, of course, it is.”

But is that what’s keeping Warren and Klobuchar out of the top of the early-state polls? Particularly an early state like New Hampshire, with three women and an openly-gay man representing them in Congress?

“Keep in mind that the majority of Democratic primary voters in every state, including New Hampshire, are women. They tend to make up 55 to 60 percent of the electorate,” Emerson College Director of Polling Spencer Kimball told InsideSources. In the new Emerson poll of Granite State Democrats released Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former mayor Pete Buttigieg are on top at 23 and 18 percent respectively, while Warren’s numbers continue to slide.

A year ago, Warren was at 25 percent in the Emerson poll, and last September she was at 21 percent. But since November she’s been stuck at 14 percent, even as her top competitors have been on the rise. Interestingly, it was Amy Klobuchar who got the biggest bump, from 2 percent in the September Emerson poll to 10 percent — and right on Warren’s heels — today.

Sexism at work?

The case that primary voters are reluctant to back women is also undermined by Warren’s own performance. Throughout 2018, Warren was a frontrunner in both New Hampshire and nationwide. At one point, nearly 30 percent of Democrats were backing her, more than any other candidate. Since then, her support as fallen by half, most of which is attributed, not to misogyny, but to her mishandling of the Medicare For All issue.

That may explain why Warren is both in fourth place overall in New Hampshire and in third place behind Sanders and Buttigieg among women voters.

Still, few people argue that sexism is non-existent.

Kimball says that women candidates do face a somewhat steeper campaign climb, and he says that based on the polling data, the problem is — their fellow women. “Women voters hold female candidates to a different standard,” Kimball said. “Senator Klobuchar is actually getting more support from men than from women.”

“I do think some biases do exist among some people,” New Hampshire Democratic National Committeewoman and former state party chair Kathy Sullivan told InsideSources. “Look at Warren: right after she announced, I had a reporter from a national paper call and ask me if ‘likeability’ would be a problem — a question I never ever hear about male candidates. And Amy Klobuchar — there was the story that she was tough on her staff that got a lot of coverage early on. A similar story was written about Bernie Sanders four years ago by a Vermont media outlet,  and no other media outlets seem to have run with it.”

Jennifer Horn, a former GOP state party chair who ran for Congress in New Hampshire, told InsideSources that sexism is real, though she says it’s not a significant force. Instead, she believes the way women candidates handle sexism is far more important.

“Yes, it was harder to run for office as a woman than a man. But you just have to face it and overcome it,” Horn said. “When we buy into it, or when we complain about it to save our campaigns, it just makes us look weak.

“And this is really a problem for Warren because she already struggles with the authenticity issue. That’s a much bigger problem for her campaign that what Bernie Sanders might have said at dinner.”

When it Comes to Charitable Giving, Warren and Sanders Are Millionaires Who Don’t ‘Pay Their Fair Share’

If you woke up New Year’s Day feeling guilty about all those last-second charitable solicitations you ignored, it might ease your conscience to know you aren’t alone. Just ask Liz Warren.

On the campaign trail, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tirelessly attacks the greed and self-interest of America’s wealthy, the “millionaires and billionaires” who, she claims, are “waging war on America’s middle class.”

“It’s time for the millionaires to pay their fair share!” Warren demands.

But when it comes to spreading the wealth to charitable causes and community service, Warren is one of the millionaires who apparently hasn’t gotten the message.

According to the tax returns Warren has posted on her campaign website, she and her husband Bruce Mann have earned more than $10 million since 2008, but they’ve rarely donated more than 4 percent of their income to charitable causes. For example, in 2014 Warren earned more than $1.6 million but gave just 2.7 percent to charity. The following year she took in nearly $1.2 million, but donated just 2.3 percent.

All that changed, however, in 2017 when Warren was preparing to formally enter the presidential race. That year her charitable donations suddenly spiked to 8.4 percent, leading some to speculate that her newfound generosity was more about electability than philanthropy. In 2018, she donated 5.5 percent of her income to charity.

Exclude her “presidential primary” years, and Warren donated an average of just 3.5 percent of her millions in income to charitable causes. That number is low for the average American in her income bracket (the average millionaire donates nearly twice that amount), and it sounds particularly ungenerous given her political platform of income redistribution, trillion-dollar tax increases and “you didn’t build that!” rhetoric.

And yet compared to her fellow 2020 progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren’s the Oprah Winfrey of the Democratic field.

In 2016, Sanders donated just $10,600 of his $1 million income — around 1 percent — to charity. His total household donations since 2009 manage to get him to the two percent level.

According to analysis by Forbes magazine, the least charitable Democrat is also the poorest: Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Despite his progressive bona fides, including a “paid” volunteerism program,  Buttigieg has donated just 1 percent of his income to charity since 2009.

And then there’s former Vice President Joe Biden, who made headlines in 2008 when Barack Obama tapped him to be his running mate it was discovered the Bidens had donated just $3,690 to charity over the course of an entire decade. He’s since raised that number to six percent, much of it donated to Biden family foundations.

Thus far the issue of charitable giving hasn’t come up on the campaign trail, perhaps because Democratic primary voters are also less likely to support charitable causes themselves.

According to multiple studies, Americans on the left are less charitable than their Republican counterparts. States that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 were, on average, less generous in their charitable giving than those carried by Donald Trump.

Arthur C. Brooks, a social scientist at Harvard’s Kennedy School and author of the book on charitable giving Who Really Cares says his research finds, “People who favor government income redistribution are significantly less likely to donate to charity than those who do not.”

Data from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy show that a smaller percentage of Americans are donating to charity each year, but overall donations are rising. In fact, over this same 2009-2017 period during which millionaire candidates like Warren and Sanders give so little, total U.S. donations to charity rose by nearly $100 billion, from $314 billion to $410 billion.

The same “millionaires and billionaires” whose greed is allegedly endangering our democracy are giving more to charity and community service. Even as progressive politicians give so little.

There are exceptions, most notably Sen. Cory Booker. The former Mayor of Newark has donated nearly half a million dollars — about 11 percent of his income — to charity over the past decade. Unfortunately, Democratic primary voters aren’t being as generous toward his campaign and Sen. Booker continues to linger around 2 percent in the polls.

From free healthcare for illegal immigrants to paying off everyone’s student loan debt, Elizabeth Warren has lots of plans for taxpayer-funded generosity. American voters may want to ask why her charity doesn’t begin at home.

Omar to Keynote NH Young Democrats’ Event, Despite History of Anti-Semitism

One of the speakers scheduled to appear at a New Hampshire Young Democrats event in Manchester Friday night is best known for speaking out about Israel, foreign policy and the Jews. And not in a good way.

For reasons unknown — the NH Young Democrats have declined multiple requests for comment — notorious Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar will be one of the keynote speakers at their Granite Slate Awards event, campaigning on behalf of fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Omar has been a member of Congress for less than two years, and already she’s been pressured into making repeated public apologies for comments her fellow Democrats describe as “vile, anti-Semitic slurs.” Her insults toward Jews have been so offensive that House Democrats drafted a resolution condemning her anti-Semitism specifically, until pressure from progressives inside her party forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi to replace it with a watered-down version condemning hate in general.

“While we commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to bring to the floor the issue of anti-Semitism within its ranks, the politically expedient resolution failed to call out Representative Omar by name,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement afterward.

Among Rep. Omar’s most notorious anti-Semitic statements:

  • “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
  • “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” explaining that American politicians’ support for Israel is motivated by Jewish money.
  • Suggesting that American Jews have a dual loyalty to both the U.S. and Israel and their commitment to America is therefore questionable.

“This accusation that Jews have a dual loyalty or require people to pledge allegiance to a foreign power, it is an anti-Semitic charge that has been used against the Jewish people literally for hundreds of years, long before there was a state of Israel,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

And just weeks ago, Omar was embroiled in another controversy over a tweet that appeared to imply businessman Leon Cooperman’s support for presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is based on the fact that they’re both Jewish.

Now, thanks to the New Hampshire Young Democrats and Senator Sanders, young Granite State progressives will get to hear Omar’s sparkling insights, up close and personal, in Manchester.

Sanders’ willingness to embrace progressives with anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-Semitic, views is not new. Just days ago, he was forced to fire a new staffer when his anti-Semitic tweets about “Jew money” were discovered, and several members of Sanders’ senior staff have been embroiled in controversies regarding Israel and anti-Semitism.

“Bernie Sanders should know better: Omar’s anti-Semitic and insensitive language does not reflect the values of Granite Staters, or the vast majority of Americans.  Bernie and Omar’s shared socialist pipe dream is sure to further solidify Granite Staters support for President Trump and Republicans across the state,” Republican National Committee Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin told NHJournal.

So why are the NH Young Democrats embracing a divisive figure like Omar? It certainly doesn’t fit in with their mission as New Hampshire’s official chapter of the Young Democrats of America.

“Our membership reflects the broad diversity of our nation and the Democratic Party,” the organization claims. “Acceptance of diverse viewpoints is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy.”

The YDA’s platform even includes a declaration on behalf of “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish Democratic state,” which is ironic given the number of events Rep. Omar has attended with crowds shouting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a not-so-subtle call for the destruction of Israel.

The NH Young Democrats have offered no explanation of how Rep. Omar’s standing as an outspoken opponent of Israel fits in with the values of this local Democratic organization. And no elected NH Democratic officials have spoken out publicly about Omar’s attendance at the Granite Slate Awards. In fact, NH Senate Majority Leader (and 2020 candidate for governor) Sen. Dan Feltes sent out an email Wednesday urging Granite State Democrats to “get your tickets now” for the event.

In March, when the House was debating Omar’s anti-Semitic comments, not one of New Hampshire’s four Democratic members of Congress would condemn her offensive remarks. Several members of the Granite State’s Jewish community did speak out, however.

“I think Omar’s comments were anti-Semitic and I think they were unacceptable,” former N.H. Congressman Paul Hodes told NHJournal. “Had I been a member of Congress, I think –I hope– that I would have been clear in rejecting anti-Semitic comments and holding the speaker accountable.” Hodes was the first Jewish member of the House of Representatives elected from New Hampshire.

Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman of Temple B’nai Israel in Laconia, N.H. was more direct: “All I can say is that Rep. Omar’s comments were anti-Semitic, and that silence is wrong.”

OPINION: Sanders Is Right About Letting Prisoners Vote

On September 9, 1971, complaining of brutality and unsanitary conditions, the inmates of Attica State Prison in upstate New York revolted, wrested control from the prison guards, and took hostages. After 28 days of negotiations, all inmate demands were agreed to but one–amnesty for those who had revolted. These inmates argued that they were forced to take action because, having exhausted every lawful avenue available to them, there was no effective alternative to seek redress of serious and legitimate grievances.

Among their negotiated agreements was the right to vote.

Then, in a much-criticized move which permanently tarnished the career of one of the great political leaders in modern New York history, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller called in troops to forcibly retake the prison and 43 people, mostly prisoners, were killed. Simply giving these men a voice at the ballot box might well have forced elected officials to pay prompt attention to Attica and avoided this human tragedy. Instead, the events at Attica State fanned the flames of hatred and mistrust in prisons and in communities of color across the country.

As an activist for prison reform attending a nearby university at the time of the standoff, I was one of a group of student activists who met with mothers of Attica inmates who worried about the potential of a deadly outcome. The insurgents were blacks, the guards they’d taken hostage were white. We were privileged white kids from far away suburbs who weren’t even old enough to vote ourselves.  These prisoners’ families were inner-city minorities, but they believed we were the nearest thing they had to a connection with the white political establishment, so they begged us to do whatever we could to urge a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

In the end, however, our political action as non-voters went equally unheeded. We watched the news coverage as the horror of the retaking unfolded. I was deeply affected by what I believed to be one of the greatest racially motivated massacres in modern American history. The attack, replete with helicopters, tear gas, and assault rifles, looked like something from Vietnam.

Many years later, I was a frequent visitor to prisons while representing inmates as a criminal appellate attorney. I also have a family member who works in a prison every day.  From the resulting evidence I have garnered, far too many prison inmates today have little to no sense of loyalty to American society, but rather, an unhealthy allegiance to their respective gangs. The gang culture is all-encompassing and it is dangerous for both inmates and prison staff. Too many inmates, both white and of color, are members of either racist or hate-based gangs.

While their lawyer, I tried to highlight for inmates their equal ownership of the fundamental rights of all Americans–the right to a fair trial, to effective counsel, and against self-incrimination, among others–which few had ever experienced or understood. For more than a few, it instilled a sense of dignity which they heretofore had not known. Win or lose, the process of exercising those fundamental rights before the high courts often helped illuminate for them their lost connection to fellow members of their ultimate gang, the one to which we all belong, that American brotherhood of unalienable rights.

We should, therefore, never underestimate the power of being “woke” to our collective democratic heritage. In fact, so valuable was a similar membership in a democracy to the great philosopher Socrates that he chose death by poison hemlock rather than be banished as a citizen of the world’s first democracy, Athens.

To protect a right to a redress of grievances, to lend dignity to the internal prison culture, and to promote the ultimate rehabilitation of inmates, most of Europe and Canada afford the right to vote to every prisoner. So do the states of Maine and Vermont, with the only stipulation being they cannot vote in the local election where the prison lies so as not to have an inordinate impact on that community. Perhaps it is no coincidence that these two states have the lowest crime rates in the country.

Given that the U.S. incarcerates more people than presently live in the state of Rhode Island, the vast majority of which are coming back out some day, maybe we ought to think a little harder about giving them what might be the single greatest leg up on eventually becoming a civilized citizen, the right to vote.

As the Supreme Court has already affirmed that a prisoner does not give up his citizenship or his First Amendment rights by being incarcerated, voting inmates will have the right to access political information and will undoubtedly attract some attention from those who run for office. The resulting opportunity to learn how their government works, learn their Constitutional rights, and participate in democracy, just may lead some to don that cloak of dignity and pride, in common with their keepers, and every American.  And just perhaps they will sooner shed the brand stamped on their forearm by the gang culture that led them to prison, exchanging it for the deeper one they internalize in common with the rest of us.

Many of us outside the prison walls are fond of boasting about our democracy, its hard-earned heritage, and its unique role in history. Our greatest presidents have even called upon us to carry its torch to light the rest of the world. How incongruous of us, then, to deny the right of participation in that democracy to our own citizens who, although incarcerated, will largely be returning to our midst, and still expect them to become responsible members of American society.

There is much to gain and little to lose in finally joining the rest of the civilized world to give them the vote.

Another Progressive Straw Poll Puts “Three B’s” at Top of 2020 Democratic Pack

In post-midterms America, the Democratic Party is all about the “B’s”– Bernie, Biden and Beto.

A new straw poll by the progressive political action committee Democracy for America gives Sen. Bernie Sanders a big lead among its supporters, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the second and third spots. And, once again, Sen. Elizabeth Warren lags well behind.

Vermont progressive Bernie Sanders topped with list with 36 percent, followed by Biden at 15 percent and O’Rourke–the Left’s flavor-of-the-month–at 12 percent. Sen. Warren was in fourth place with just 8 percent of DFA’s support, narrowly edging out California Sen. Kamala Harris at 7 percent.

“Let’s be clear: Progressive support in the 2020 Democratic primary is up for grabs and so is Democracy for America’s endorsement,” said DFA’s incoming chairman Charles Chamberlain, in a statement released to Politico.  “Unlike 2016, no candidate has support strong enough for the Democratic Party establishment to clear the field, which means progressives will have an excellent opportunity over the next year to kick the tires on a wide range of different candidates and find the best one to take on Trump.”

DFA, an organization founded by progressive Howard Dean, endorsed Sanders in the heated 2016 Democratic POTUS primary, so it’s no surprise that he’s the top choice of their membership.  However, the fact that a series of polls–both among progressives and Democrats as a whole–put the same three candidates in the top tier gives a good indication of how likely primary voters view the current field of contenders.

And perhaps most significant, one-time front-runner Elizabeth Warren doesn’t crack the top three in any of these surveys.

For example, last week the progressive activist group released the results of their own straw poll. Beto was on top, with Biden and Bernie close behind. Warren trailed Harris and came in fifth. Similarly, a national poll of Democrats released by CNN over the weekend put Biden at top, followed by Bernie and Beto, with Sen. Warren in seventh place and just 3 percent support.

Pollsters and political pros all agree that polling and surveys two year ahead of the general election are far too early to be significant. The consensus, rather, is that there is no consensus.

“There is no frontrunner there,” pollster Frank Luntz said on Fox News. “There are twice as many candidates they may run for the Democrats this time as ran for the Republicans two years ago.”

Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner argues that the strong performance by Beto O’Rourke is less a reflection of the Texas Democrat’s strength than the weakness of the field overall. “The fact that O’Rourke, without doing much, could leapfrog all of the other candidates who had been clearly positioning themselves to run for years, suggests that none of the Democratic candidates enter the race in a particularly strong position,” Klein writes.

And despite his consistently strong showing in these surveys, Joe Biden insists he won’t make his decision to run based on the polls.

“I don’t think about the polling data,” Biden told CBS News. “I think about whether or not I should run based on very private decisions relating to my family and the loss of my son and what I want to do with the rest of my life. But I don’t think of it in terms of can I win, can I – will I lose. That’s not part of the calculation.”

If Bernie Sanders Really Wants to Take on Billionaires, He Can Start With His Fellow 2020 Democrats

Sen. Bernie Sanders has a new book out,“Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance, ”and he sat down with New Hampshire Public Radio on Monday to promote it. When asked if he is going to run for president in 2020, he said it depended on the reaction he got to his message that “we need an unprecedented grassroots political movement to stand up to the greed of the billionaire class and the politicians they own.”

Well, if Bernie really wants to battle “millionaires and billionaires,” all he has to do is file his papers for the 2020 Democratic primary. The list of 33 (and counting) potential 2020 candidates includes several billionaires, including former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, coal-magnate-turned-green-activist Tom Steyer and Starbucks ex-chief executive Howard Schultz, along with Dallas Mavericks owner/reality TV star Mark Cuban (who may or may not be a Democrat).

When it comes to “billionaires buying elections,” Steyer is the leader of the pack. With a net worth of $1.6 billion, Steyer has been the top individual donor in two out of the last three election cycles, giving a total of more than $226 million dollars over that period.  Steyer is open in his efforts to connect his donations to environmental policies he supports.

Steyer’s $59 million in this cycle was edged out this cycle by fellow billionaire liberal Michael Bloomberg (Net worth: $45 billion), who gave $61 million, much of it through his pro-gun-control efforts. Bloomberg is just as clear that he wants his money to impact public policy on the Second Amendment.

Big spending by these billionaires, however, doesn’t seem to bother Bernie. When asked about Bloomberg and Steyer, Sen. Sanders said Steyer “is a very decent guy,” while he said he didn’t know Bloomberg personally. Then Sanders went on to add:

“The issue that concerns me–it’s not just those guys– it’s that, as a result of Citizen’s United, we have a corrupt campaign finance system. The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, they’re trying to buy elections. Billionaires shouldn’t be buying seats for themselves.”

But how is Tom Steyer, who has literally used his billions to build a campaign infrastructure many believe he will use to run for president in 2020, different from the Koch Brothers–other than the fact that they’re not running for anything, and their Americans for Prosperity Action PAC spent a measly $6.5 million this cycle?

The problem for progressives like Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren with their “millionaires and billionaires” schtick is that the Democratic Party has become the party of America’s wealthy elites. For every Republican billionaire like Sheldon Adelson (who was the top individual donor this cycle at $113 million) there are a dozen left-leaning tech billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and Jeff Bezos at Amazon, or rich Hollywood millionaires and movie stars, or liberal activists like George Soros, etc. etc.

The Trump GOP is the party of rural working-class Americans more than it is “millionaires and billionaires.” And making the case that the rich are stealing democracy is tough when they are (based on the numbers) apparently “stealing it” for Democrats.

And why do the Democrats even need leftover rabble rouser Bernie Sanders?  Tom Steyer is at least as populist as Sanders–if not more so. Michael Bloomberg is at least a socially liberal–once again, if not more so. And there’s a whole bevy of college-student-friendly far-Left activists like Booker, Brown and Beto who haven’t achieved AARP status yet. For a guy who should be considered top dog for 2020, Sen. Sanders current poll numbers are unimpressive.

Bernie’s real problem isn’t “billionaires.” It’s his bad luck that the last real chance he had of being the Democratic nominee was stolen from him by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

OK, so Why WON’T Bernie Sanders Endorse His Son?

The Boston Globe has a fascinating story about trying to get an answer to the question: Why can’t Levi Sanders get the endorsement of his own dad? After all, Sen. Bernie Sanders has been criss-crossing the country to back candidates who share his socialist views (though without great success), why not do the same for his son in the 9-way race for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District?

Sen. Sanders has issued a simple, and not particularly satisfying, statement: “Levi has spent his life in service to low income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done. In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”

For his part, Levi has been reluctant to discuss the matter. His campaign declined comment fo, and he’s largely dodged the question across the board. From the Globe:

“You know I’m not Bernie’s son. I’m the son of Larry David’s fourth cousin,” he quipped in a brief conversation, referring to the distant blood tie between the comedian and the senator. He initially agreed to a more extensive interview on Tuesday night but then canceled the interview and has not responded to numerous messages left with him and his campaign associates.

Levi is certainly following in his father’s far-Left footprints. Go to his website, and you’ll find his support for socialized medicine (“Medicare For All”), a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition for all.  But the closest you’ll come to seeing his dad’s support is this somewhat odd photo:

That’s Levi on the right, walking toward the camera as his father walks away.  Odd.

Then again, it may not matter all that much. In a recent poll of potential 2020 presidential candidates, only 13 percent of New Hampshire Democrats back Bernie, putting him behind Sen. Liz Warren (26 percent) and former VP Joe Biden (20 percent). Sen. Sanders may not hold much sway, not even in a state he won in the 2016 Democratic primary.

And while Levi Sanders may be outspoken on his socialist-leaning policies, he’s been relatively quiet on politics–declining to say if he’d vote to make Nancy Pelosi speaker, and equivocating on the question of impeaching President Trump. Perhaps he believes going too far Left isn’t a smart move in this swing district.

So does that mean Sen. Sanders refusing to endorse his son because doesn’t want his endorsement? Stay tuned….